Is Nigeria becoming a banana republic?
Strange things are happening in Nigeria with such great rapidity and intensity that most normal people are asking questions in utter amazement. I was speaking to a group of young people last weekend in Enugu and many asked me very difficult questions about this country: Is this country cursed? What is happening? Is anybody running this country? Who is safe in Nigeria now? Why are people like you not doing anything to change the dangerous course Nigeria is on? What else will happen in this country before people like you take action?
I could feel the anger and frustration in their looks and voices. They had many things bothering them and I tried to find out the issues uppermost in their minds. I noticed that their anger and frustration seemed to have been accentuated by the recent statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) at the Commonwealth meeting in London last week. He was reported to have categorised the Nigerian youth as lazy, expecting hand outs from a supposedly rich oil country. I found that many of the youths took serious offense on this unbecoming comment by PMB on the world stage and wondered if all was well. Beyond the anger related to this statement, the youth pointed to me several other events happening in the country which frighten them.
First, they were amazed by the level of insecurity in the nation. They expressed alarm that Nigeria has become one large killing field where people are murdered daily in cold blood by Boko Haram insurgents and the militant Fulani cattle herdsmen. They were wondering why the government cannot stop the daily killing in Benue, Nassarawa, Taraba, and Plateau states by either militant Fulani herdsmen or the “marauders trained in Libya by Gaddafi “according to PMB. They are bothered by the daily killings in Zamfara and fear that soon, these killers may move to South as the herdsmen have done severally, killing, maiming and confiscating farmlands in places in Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Ekiti states. They cited the frustrations of the governor of Edo who had done all to stop all clashes, to no avail and had to completely ban all forms of open grazing in Edo for a season. They are asking what our security agencies are doing and they feel that it looks like there is no government in Nigeria.
Secondly, they argued that the primary activity of any government in the world is to protect lives and property of its citizens and visitors and since Nigerians are virtually left on their own to protect themselves from all kinds of miscreants bellowing for blood of citizens and the government seems helpless or unconcerned, then they could conclude that either there is no government or the government has become so incompetent that it cannot perform the most basic and primary role of government. Another youth rose to ask me why the government has failed to discipline the security agencies for poor performance. He said that what was going on was pure failure of the security agencies to perform and wondered why PMB has not seen the need to discipline the leaders of the security forces, not even by a rebuke, not to talk of firing them. He wondered why the President had failed to take action against the Inspector General of Police (IGP) who had not only shown crass incompetence but even openly disobeyed the President. And what was worse, was that the President was not even aware that his order was not carried out by the IGP and yet nothing seems to have happened.
A female youth rose up to take over from the other guy and asked me to explain to her why there seems to be no coordination between the security agencies and wondered if that was not why we have the high level of insecurity in the country. She narrated her bewilderment in watching the dog fight between the DSS, EFCC and NIA and asked me to explain the role of the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). She further queried: ‘Are these agencies so independent that they report to nobody and nobody coordinates or controls them?’ She could never understand why PMB presented Ibrahim Magu as the head of EFCC to the Nigerian Senate for confirmation twice and on both occasions, the DSS wrote adverse report opposing Magu’s confirmation and up till date Magu has not been confirmed three years down the line and has remained in acting position and everybody is fine? Why would the President not call DSS to order or if the DSS was right, not replace Magu with another nominee? It is like the case of a house divided against itself. Recently the EFCC tried to arrest the former DGs of the DSS and NIA on corruption charges and they were resisted by the operatives of the other agencies leading to near gun battle. And since then nobody has been rebuked. The former DGs have refused to report to EFCC and they are walking about free and the charges against them standing in abeyance and we tell the world that we are fighting corruption. Strange!
While I was making attempt to give some answers to the barrage of questions by these agitated but apparently knowledgeable group of youth, another young man asked me if I watched the drama – a kind of Hollywood, robin-hood type of film that played out in the hallowed chambers of the Nigerian Senate during the week. One senator, the son of Agege who was a member of the Senate privileges committee who had in the past participated in recommending disciplinary actions, including suspension from the Senate plenary sessions against erring senators went against the rule of the Senate by criticising the decision of the Senate regarding the order of the elections, claiming it was aimed against PMB. Omo Agege formed a parliamentary group in support of Buhari.
At first, he apologised to his colleagues but later decanted and took his colleagues to court. The privileges committee on which he served recommended his suspension for 180 days but the Senate in plenary reduced it to 90 days and also disbanded the so-called Buhari Parliamentary support group. Omo Agege stuck to his gun, continued his case in court. Last Tuesday, while the Senate was in session, he walked in majestically into the chambers flanked by some strange looking men, who turned out to be ruffians and mace-robbers. These ragamuffins grabbed the mace and fought their way out of the Senate bruising the sergeants-at- arm on their way out.
They went out of the Senate building as they came ‘evading’ the normal many-layered security architecture, walked into their cars and drove away. When they could not exit through the normal gate due to last minute activation of the security at the main gate, they quietly drove through the Aso-Rock Villa gate normally reserved for the Presidency and vanished into ‘safety’. And this whole episode was televised live to the entire nation. The mace was said to have been discovered under a bridge close to Abuja gate, but as for the mace thieves, nobody knows where they are, despite the fact that the faces of the thieves were seen on the television footage. Neither the Police, nor the DSS nor the military has a clue where these men are. The young man ended this narrative with a poser to me: Where is this country headed, to total anarchy or have we become a banana republic? I opened my mouth but could not utter a word.
Mazi Ohuabunwa, OFR. email@example.com
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